The Pro-Wres Digest for May 14th – May 21st.
Johnny Walker, the legendary Mr Wrestling II, underwent surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm on 15/5. The last word from his son Robert was that the surgery couldn’t have gone any better and the 81 year-old Walker was recovering in the ICU for a couple of days. Here’s Robert Walker’s full statement from 15/5:
“Thank you everyone so much for your thoughts and prayers. The doctor came out of surgery and explained that everything went extremely well and couldn’t have gone any better. Dad is in the ICU recovery for the next few days and should have him up and moving soon. As you may or may not know, an aneurysm on the aorta is a ticking time bomb and could rupture at any minute. He now has dodged a second bullet with this one, as this is the second one for him. Mom is really watching over him and we are truly blessed. Thanks again to all.”
Walker made a full recovery from open heart bypass surgery in 2010, so with any luck Mr Wrestling II should be up and throwing Knee Lifts in no time. Walker was famously the favourite wrestler of former President Jimmy Carter and his mother, Miss Lillian Carter. Walker even received an invited to Lillian’s house and was driven there by the Secret Service. They reportedly spoke for over two hours on a range of subjects and Miss Carter’s only reference to Walker’s mask was that he could remove it if he felt more comfortable. Of course, Walker kept his mask on and politely declined. – For the full story, and plenty more Mr Wrestling II tales, check out this great piece by Mike Mooneyham for the Post and Courier in 2011 [EDITOR’S NOTE: Allan Blackstock and Kris Zellner posted a fantastic Wrestling II podcast earlier this year.].
Stephanie McMahon announced this week that she is working on her “memoirs,” which will be released on September 27th – my birthday, so you all know what to get me – and Dave Meltzer reported it will cost $26.95 through Regan Arts. Judith Regal, CEO of Regal Arts, came out with the most hilarious and farcical corporate jargon to promote the book. Get a load of this:
“Stephanie McMahon is one of the great visionaries behind the continuing success of WWE, and has navigated the entertaining, treacherous and awe-inspiring world of Superstars, egos and drama with style, tremendous skill and dynamite feminine force.”
Vince McMahon sold 2,191,894 Class B shares of his WWE stock on 16/5 for an estimated $36,165,921 (before tax). That leaves Vince with 37,080,747 Class B shares, which is 48.8% of the company. The gimmick is that Class B shares can only be held by a McMahon and if they are sold they automatically become Class A shares. Class B shares have 10 votes per share while Class A only has one vote per share. According to Mookie Ghana, as of February 2016 only four people held about 42 million Class B shares, with 420 million voting rights. Where as there were only 7,916 holders of about 33 million Class A common stock shares, with 33 millions voting share. Basically, the McMahons will remain controlling interest in the company no matter what.
There’s no word on a title yet, however on 11/5 WWE filed the trademark, “Lady Balls.” Maybe they are planning on debuting some kind of new wacky character, however (and this is pure speculation) it could very well be a working title for Ms McMahon’s courageous and trailblazing life-story.
Emma is the latest performer to be stricken by the WWE injury plague. She suffered a back injury during a tag match with Lana against Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks at a house show in New Mexico on 8/5. After an MRI they discovered that Emma had ruptured a disc in her back and needed surgery to fix it.
AJ Styles didn’t work last weekend’s house shows due to an ankle injury. There was no word on how serious the injury was and it is possible they pulled Styles from the shows as a precautionary measure with Extreme Rules only a week away at that point. Styles didn’t wrestle on RAW or SmackDown this week, however he did some physical stuff and appeared to move around fine.
IWGP Heavyweight champion Tetsuya Naito was hospitalised on Friday 13/5 due to suffering from a high fever. Naito managed to pull through and worked the ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds the next night on 14/5 at Terminal 5 in New York City and reportedly still managed to have the best match of the night when he beat ACH in a non-title match.
Two ROH/New Japan stars that weren’t quite as lucky as Natio were Matt & Nick Jackson, both of whom were injured at the ROH TV tapings in Toronto on 11/5. Nick went down with a broken rib during a Elite vs. Tanahashi, Elgin & Yoshitatsu match and Matt broke his hand at some point during the same show. Matt worked the 14/5 show in New York and teamed with Adam Cole against Jay Lethal & Roderick Strong and Okada & Ishii, however Nick missed the final night of the War of the Worlds tour and was also pulled from the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. The forgotten member of the Bullet Club, Chase Owens, will take Nick’s spot in the B Block and Matt’s spot in the A Block went to David Finlay. Here’s the updated card for the BOSJ opening night at Korakuen on 21/5:
* Satoshi Kojima, Volador Jr. & Bobby Fish vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Trent Baretta & Will Ospreay.
* Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Katsuyori Shibata, Juice Robinson, Jay White & ???.
* Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yoshitatsu, Captain New Japan & Ricochet vs. Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale. Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens.
* Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, Seiya Sanada & Evil.
* BOSJ A BLOCK: Gedo vs. Bushi.
* BOSJ A BLOCK: Rocky Romero vs. David Finlay.
* BOSJ A BLOCK: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Matt Sydal.
* BOSJ A BLOCK Kushida vs. Kyle O’Reilly.
Minoru Suzuki held a press conference in Tokyo on 16/5 and announced the full card for the Suzuki-Gun show at Korakuen Hall on 18/6. The show will take place one day after Suzuki’s 48th birthday on 17/6 and will feature a special commemorative birthday battle royal. The match is mostly full of NOAH guys, however MMA fighter Ryo Kawamura and female wrestler Hiroyo Matsumoto, who works at Suzuki’s Piledriver store in Harajuku, will both be entrants in the special battle royal. Suzuki laughed at the idea of Matsumoto beating up men in the match.
* Minoru Suzuki 48th Birthday Commemoration Royal Rumble: Muhammad Yone, Quiet Storm, Akitoshi Saito, Taiji Ishimori, Yoshinari Ogawa, Hitoshi Kumano, Shiro Tomoyose, Kaito Kiyomiya, Ryo Kawamura & Hiroyo Matsumoto.
* Four-Way Tag Match: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado vs. Daisuke Harada & Atsushi Kotoge vs. Kenoh & Hajime Ohara vs. Genba Hirayanagi & Captain NOAH.
* 6 Man Tag Match: Shelton “X” Benjamin, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi.
* Survival Three-Way Tag Match: Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Go Shiozaki & Maybach Taniguchi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya.
* Main Event Six-Man Tag Match: Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Sugiura & Takashi Iizuka vs. Naomichi Marufuji, Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba.
Kenta Kobashi’s Fortune Dream 3 show on 14/6 at Korakuen Hall added two new matches to the card this week. Jun Akiyama will face the son of Tatsumi Fujinami, Leona in a singles match, and Ultimo Dragon, Minoru Tanaka & Shinjiro Otani vs. Isami Kodaka, Shiori Asahi & Fujita “Jr” Hayato was also announced for the card. Previously announced:
* Special Talk Battle: Kenta Kobashi vs Kensuke Sasaki.
* Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Kairi Hojo.
* Go Shiozaki & Yuji Okabayashi vs. Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Hino.
* Shuji Ishikawa & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Kohei Sato & Maybach Taniguchi.
A huge match has been announced for the Wrestle-1 show on August 11th in Yokohama, as three years after the All Japan split Keiji Mutoh & Jun Akiyama will face off on opposite sides of a six-man tag match. The last time Mutoh & Akiyama shared the ring was for Kenta Kobashi’s retirement match in May 2013, however the last time they were on opponents was on March 20th 2013 in All Japan when Mutoh, Hiroshi Yamato & Takao Omori beat Akiyama, Go Shiozaki & Atsushi Aoki. The 11/8 match was set up during a Wrestle-1 show at Korakuen Hall on 4/5 when Akiyama made a surprise appearance and challenged Mutoh to a match. No partners have been announced for either team as of yet. Mutoh also announced the winner of the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix, a 16 man single elimination tournament starting on 15/6 at Shinjuku Face, would received a shot at the Wrestle-1 Championship on the 11/8 show in Yokohama. Kai is the current Wrestle-1 champion, however he is set to defend the title before 11/8 at Korakuen Hall on 6/8 against Shotaro Ashino.
FMW ran Shinkiba 1st RING in Tokyo on 14/5 and the war with UWF continued with Team FMW: Atsushi Onita, Raijin Yaguchi, NOSAWA Rongai & Hideki Hosaka beating Team UWF: Yoshihiro Takayama, Mitsuya Nagai, Alexander Otsukda & Daisuke Ikeda in the main event which went 13 minutes. Semi-final saw Takuma Sano & Takaku Fuke (UWF) over Ricky Fuji &Tomohiko Hashimoto (FMW) in 10:44, leaving both promotions with one win each on the night.
Los Ingobernables appear to be in the process of breaking up. La Mascara, Rush & Pierroth lost to Rey Bucanero, Shocker & Terrible on 13/5 and teased dissension throughout the match. Afterwards, Rush & his father Pierroth attacked Mascara and Rush declared that he, Sombra & Mascara were blood brothers but said that Mascara played to the crowd too much. Rush said he was going with his actual blood, Pierroth and claimed they were the new Los Ingobernables, however Mascara stated in a backstage interview that the group was finished. Rush also surprisingly lost to Marco Corleone in the main event of the 16/5 show at Arena Puebla in 7:32; Rush was DQ’d in the second fall but was pinned in the third. Cubs Fan seems to think that CMLL are trying to keep Rush happy in order to stop from going elsewhere and giving him a big singles run against all of his friends appears to be their plan. Cubs also speculated that Rush could be “checking items off his CMLL bucket list,” similar to the way La Sombra went out by getting to work a very short deal with his friend Rush. It certainly doesn’t mean Rush is going anywhere, although it will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on.
Dragon Lee returned from his knee injury on the CMLL Arena Mexico show on 17/5 and typically did a bunch of crazy dives. Lee teamed with Blue Panther & Guerrero Maya Jr against Bobby Z, Mephisto & Vangellys and bizarrely – although this is Mexico – lost the third fall clean to a Bobby Z dropkick.
AAA announced the third women’s team for the Lucha World Cup. Team Canada will be made up of Taya, KC Spinelli & Cherry Bomb. There is still one more women’s team to be announced, that being Team USA. Team Japan is Aja Kong, Yuki Miyazaki, Natsu Sumire and Team Mexico is Lady Apache, Mary Apache & Faby Apache. Currently, only four of the eight men’s teamed have been announced. Team NOAH: Taiji Ishimori, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi. Team Zero-One: Akebono, Ikuto Hidaka & Masato Tanaka. Team AAA: El Texano Jr., Pentagon Jr. & Psycho Clown. Team Mexican Leyendas: Canek, La Parka & Blue Demon Jr. Rey Mysterio Jr will captain an International team, however his partners have not been announced yet. Team Lucha Underground & Team TNA are also still unknown at this point.
Zack Sabre Jr was hurt while working a match against Big Daddy Walter for WXW in Germany on 13/5. Sabre suffered a nasty gash on his arm and had to be taken to hospital to get stitched up. The injury was severe enough to cause Sabre to pull out of the PWG “Prince” show on 20/5, where he was scheduled to defend the PWG title for the first time against Michael Elgin. Sabre also had to cancel his date for PWX Wrestling in North Carolina on 21/5. Kamaitachi will replace Sabre on the PWG show and will face Michael Elgin.
The Observer this week noted that Cedric Alexander is finished with ROH and is expected to be a part of the WWE Global Cruiserweight Classic. Alexander was announced for the next Evolve double-shot weekend in Florida on June 10/11, so it was pretty clear at that point that he would not be going back to ROH.
TNA announced that Tigre Uno had re-signed with the company this week. Unfortunately for Tigre and the rest of the TNA crew, Pop TV cancelled the Saturday morning replay of iMPACT after only four weeks of it airing in that time slot.
Chikara are running their second tour of the UK starting on 20/5, following last year’s four shows they ran in conjunction with the Wolverhampton based Fight Club Pro. This year’s tour will be seven dates across the UK and will once again feature both Chikara & Fight Club Pro talent.
William Regal announced on WWE’s Facebook page that the Samoa Joe/Finn Balor NXT title match on 8/6 would be the first cage match in NXT history.
Speaking of NXT, we’ve got some highlights from the TV tapings held on 19/5 at Full Sail. Manny Andrade worked a dark match under the new name Andrade “Cien” Almas and beat Tino Sabbatelli. Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa beat TM61 (Nick Miller & Shane Thorn) – the former TMDK and Adrienne Reese(Athena) beat Nikki Storm. In terms of storyline, they set up Nia Jax as the #1 contender for Asuka by putting Jax over Carmella & Alexa Bliss in a three-way. Later on, they did a contract signing and Jax ended up laying Asuka out with a Powerbomb. Austin Aries & Shinusuke Nakamura was booked for the next Takeover on 8/6. Interestingly, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor & Shinsuke Nakamura didn’t work any matches for the TV shows, however they were on the show in the dark main event slot, as Balor & Nakamura beat Joe & Tye Dillinger when Nakamura pinned Joe.
Here’s the final card for WWE Extreme Rules this Sunday from the Prudential Centre in Newark, NJ.
* WWE World Heavyweight Championship Extreme Rules Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles
* WWE IC Four-way: The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
* WWE United States Championship: Kalisto (c) vs. Rusev
* WWE Tag Team Championship: New Day (c) vs. The Vaudevillains
* WWE Women’s Championship Submission Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Natalya
* Asylum Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho
* Texas Tornado: Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows vs. The Usos
* No DQ: Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler
RAW on 16/5 did a 2.26 rating with 3,174,000 viewers, virtually the same as what they did last week only with 57,000 less viewers. 8pm did 3,376,000. 9pm did 3,302,000 and 10pm dropped massively to 2,894,000 up against the NBA Play-offs.
TNA iMPACT on 17/5 did 311,000, up from the 280,000 they did last week.
Lucha Underground on 18/5 did a total 164,000 viewers; 127,000 for the first run and 37,000 for the replay. That’s down from the combined 177,000 last week, however the median viewer age was the youngest all season at 48.7.
SmackDown on 19/5 did a 1.62 rating with 2,295,000 viewers, up slightly from the 1.59 and 2,262,000 last week.